Title: Beer Very Bad
Author: Golden Waffles
Rating: T. For minor language and occasional mentions of sex. But not in this chapter.
Disclaimer: Of course I don't own the characters or settings of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Just the situations I put them in here.
A/N: This is short, but I just thought we needed a quiet moment to follow the stress of the last chapter. And, like I said before, I want to keep the momentum going, even if it means short chapters.

Chapter 23:
Good Morning

Willow blinked down at the sleeping girl in her arms. Pale morning sunlight was streaming through the curtains, but Tara didn't stir. Her face was turned into Willow's shoulder, shielding her eyes from the light. In the pale sunlight, her fair hair almost seemed to glow as it lay splayed across the pillow and partially across Willow's pajama top. A gap in the strands exposed the bruise on her temple, which was just barely starting to heal. Willow's heart swelled at the sight. A fallen angel…

As soon as Buffy had returned the night before, Willow had hurried back to Tara's side. In fact, her need to get back to her girlfriend, coupled with the last dregs of the paragon spell, had been the only thing that had stopped her from killing Jonathan outright when Buffy explained the situation. She still had hazy plans to find him and explain exactly how many ways she could make him suffer if he ever even thought about using magic and putting Tara in danger ever again. And then maybe demonstrate a few of them.

In the meantime, she had a girlfriend to snuggle.

She had kept a sleepless vigil all night, just in case Tara had trouble sleeping or woke from a nightmare. She was now exhausted and her higher brain function was a little fuzzy, but it had been worth it. She had chased off two nightmares so far, and she had gotten to watch Tara in the changing light that fell through the gaps in the curtains. The bluish-silver light of the moon and street lamps had turned her almost ethereal, pale with silver-white hair, like a ghost. When dawn came, the color changed to washed-out white, before finally fading into the pale yellow it was now. Soon, it would turn gold as the sun made its full appearance. Willow decided that she liked the east-facing window. She also decided that she liked holding Tara and watching her sleep all night.

Tara sighed softly, which Willow had learned was a fairly common occurrence. And a kind of cute occurrence. She imagined it was some reaction to a dream. The puff of air made a few strands of her hair flutter. They brushed against the sleeping girl's nose, and she scrunched it in protest. Stifling a chuckle, Willow carefully stroked the stray strands away from her face. Tara stirred at the touch, and her eyes barely peeked open.

"Shh. Go back to sleep," Willow whispered as blue eyes blinked sleepily up at her.

"Willow?" the blonde murmured, still not lifting her heavy head. Her voice was rough and quiet from sleep.

"Yeah. I'm here."

"What time is it?"

"Too early." Willow pressed a soft kiss to the top of her head, not for the first time that night. "Sleep."

The blonde momentarily ignored her command, instead letting her eyes open wider and sweep her surroundings.

"Mmm. This looks familiar," she commented, smirking. "You gonna run away again?" Her voice was mostly teasing, but the remnants of sleep made it hard to be sure.

"Not unless you want me to," the redhead answered seriously. Tara, in response, splayed a hand possessively over her stomach and snuggled back into her shoulder. Willow smiled. "How are you feeling?"

"Okay." Her eyelids fell shut again. "A little sore. And sleepy."

"I'll bet." Another kiss in her hair. "Go back to sleep."

"Did you sleep okay?" Tara asked, already making herself more comfortable by tucking her head into the soft skin of Willow's neck. Willow felt the wayward blonde hair tickle her, but immediately decided that it was a pleasant kind of tickle, so she didn't mind.

"It was a good night," she said simply. It wasn't a lie. It had been a very nice night, albeit one that didn't include sleep. She might have shrugged if it wouldn't have meant disturbing Tara's resting place.

"Good," Tara echoed. Willow heard a soft yawn near her ear. "You going back to sleep?"

"No, I'm alright."

"Won't you get bored? Just lying there?" Her voice was already growing soft and slurred.

"I'll be fine," Willow promised honestly. "Go back to sleep, baby."

Tara barely murmured her ascent, settling in for another few hours of rest. Willow began slowly trailing her fingertips up and down her back. She felt Tara relax completely under her touch, breathing a long, final sigh. Within minutes, she had returned to the deep, even breathing of slumber.

"That's my girl," Willow whispered, maintaining her quiet vigil. She could sleep later, once she was sure Tara was well-rested and feeling better. Until then, she would guard her dreams.

It was hours later, after the sunlight turned gold and began climbing the sky, that Tara woke for real, one of her soft sighs turning into a wide yawn and a huge stretch. And Willow was there to watch over her.